As many of you know, Syracuse University is a school that is “smart” at social media. Kate Brodock, executive director of digital and social media at Syracuse University directs a student team that manages SU’s social media presence and they do an admirable job at spreading SU’s message effectively and engaging with a variety of stakeholders online.
For my case study in Public Relations Theory with Brenda Wrigley I took a deeper look at the strategic thinking behind the school’s actions on social media. I began by looking at things like “An analysis of the increasing impact of social and other new media on public relations practice” in the Public Relations staple, the Institute for PR and the “Summary of Findings from the Third Comprehensive Study of Social Media Use by Schools, Colleges and Universities” by the higher ed communication masters at mStoner. I was able to convince the SU library to buy primary research on PR practice in higher ed which provided good quantitative data on what a variety of schools are doing.
I combined that background research with in-depth interviews, news reports, and archival information to have concrete evidence to support the notion that engagement with many stakeholders via social media is crucial to effective public relations practice in higher education. However, that’s not the long and short of it. It’s not enough to simply say “We need to be on Facebook and tweet at people and have videos of campus with corny music.” It’s about having an understanding of where your audiences are, what kind of content interests them, and in what form they want that content.
Being open to communicating with stakeholders makes this much easier and having an understanding of website and social media analytics doubly so. My paper is nowhere near the final word, but it’s a start.
Note: This semester, as a a graduate intern for Kate Brodock I’ll be working on content strategy for the school’s various accounts, organizing all the multitude of accounts of the school, and after I learn how to do so effectively in “NEW 600: Visual Journalism”, creating video content for the school.